Three on a Theme: Movies About Being Outside

What is almost as good as getting outside in the summer time? Watching movies about other people getting outside! The outdoors are a great component of so many amazing films available at the library, but there are some films in which “outside” features almost as a character all on its own. These films are different from your standard outdoorsy movie in that they are not necessarily about toughness, grit, masculinity, and hard-core survival, but rather offer softer, more comical, and/or more introspective stories about relationships and identity – which are enhanced by the outdoor settings in which they unfold. Here are three of my favorite movies about being outside, available in various forms with your library card.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople. This film came out in 2016 from sincere and hilarious Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi, whose other contributions to film since that time – including Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Ragnarok – have earned him various accolades and a firm place among the world’s most beloved contemporary movie people. Set in the expansive New Zealand bush, the movie tells the story of what happens when two unlikely companions – a young foster kid named Ricky Baker and an old, gruff introvert named Hector – end up the targets of a crazy manhunt after they are stranded in the wilderness. It is equal parts hilarious comedy and tender examination of grief, relationship-building, and choosing one’s family. It also features a dog named Tupac. This is a must-see, and it is available to be streamed with your library card on Kanopy! Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Movies About Being Outside”

Three on a Theme: Music Documentaries on Kanopy

The library has always had great resources for music buffs, but lesser known among these are the many documentaries about music, musicians, and musical history that are available on our video streaming services. Often, these include both great insights into the works of famous musicians or hidden gems that tell a particular story about music history that is not necessarily well-known in the mainstream. If you are interested and want to learn more, here are three excellent documentaries about musicians and musical history that are available to you for free on Kanopy with your library card.

Nas: Time is IllmaticThis documentary, subtitled “The Making of a Groundbreaking Hip Hop Album,” is a little over an hour long and tells the story behind influential 90s rapper Nas’ breakout hit album. It also treats the early personal life of Nas himself.. The film includes interviews with musicians Nas influenced, worked with, and/or was influenced by, including Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keyes, and Busta Rhymes. It is also beautifully filmed, and this has been recognized critically as it has also been nominated for a few awards. It’s a real treat that it is available for free via Kanopy. Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Music Documentaries on Kanopy”

Positive Reflections of Older Adults in Movies

It’s not so easy to find movies about characters in the 60+ age category, let alone ones that depict older adults in a positive light. Fortunately, some are available for free viewing on Kanopy and Hoopla attesting that seniors can indeed lead interesting and meaningful lives.

My Old Lady Movie PosterMy Old Lady, a 2014 English movie adapted from Israel Horowitz’s book by the same title, can be streamed on Kanopy.  This sophisticated portrait of a lady in her 90’s shows someone in full control of her sharp mind carrying on with her profession. She handles a scheming guest trying to displace her from her Paris home and deals with the drama which plays out when we learn family secrets about the intruder! With Maggie Smith in the lead role some delightful dialogue reminiscent of the one-line ‘zingers’ from the TV series Downton Abbey embellish this film and Kevin Kline holds his own. Well worth watching.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, inspiring older adults appear frequently among foreign language flicks, particularly from France where “joie de vivre” continues in later years. A noteworthy French movie from 2011 is All Together: Et si on vivait tous ensemble which not only shows five friends courageously living together when one of them can no longer live alone, but also successfully handling problems on their own which inevitably come with aging. Iconic actor Jane Fonda depicts graceful aging through her character Jeanne, while the other four actors lend creativity and feistiness to their character depictions. The taboo topic of sex in older life is also candidly depicted and the film is thought-provoking and modern.  Continue reading “Positive Reflections of Older Adults in Movies”

Escapism Through the Documentary

Documentaries gives us a peek into the window of someone else’s reality, and in these very unusual times, a glimpse into a place where the real world is not upended and devastated by a global panic sounds quite comforting. While during “normal” times, one might escape through fantasy, sci-fi, or a very engrossing drama, during the era of COVID-19, why not try the documentary?

Nanook of the North movie poster

Documentary film first began as the creation of brief, informational videos and has evolved over time to become more observational, expository, and entertaining. One of the most significant early documentaries is Nanook of the North , a 1922 chronicle of an Inuit man and his family in Northern Canada. Often hailed as a significant cultural achievement, Nanook is an excellent example for critically thinking about the art of documentary filmmaking. Who is controlling the narrative, and how has the filmmaker influenced the audience’s response to what they’re seeing on screen? Continue reading “Escapism Through the Documentary”

Virtual visits: Art collections and experiences online

Uncertainty about safe and healthy travel these days has caused many of our plans to be interrupted or canceled. For hours we had planned itineraries, scheduled exhausting (but fun!) days, and made must-do, must-eat, and must-see lists, but sadly those lists will remain unchecked for now. The strolls we imagined we would take in renowned parks and sites? Not going to happen. All the delicious food we were supposed to enjoy in the quaintest of restaurants and cafés? Still untried. And the paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art that we planned to visit and study in world-famous museums? Luckily we can see those by virtual means.

Photo of Musee d'Orsay and Pont Royal
Musee d’Orsay and Pont Royal, by Daniel Vorndran / DXR

Continue reading “Virtual visits: Art collections and experiences online”